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How skills development can benefit tech professionals

By Olivia Blazevic | 08 March 2021


As technology continues to advance, so does the demand for tech professionals with updated, relevant skill sets. Modern solutions are required to keep pace. 

It’s becoming increasingly prevalent that a business’ competitive edge stems from their technological advantage, often spearheaded by continuous upskilling opportunities for tech-employees. 

How should employers ensure this continued market advantage? By facilitating upskilling opportunities via a customised development strategy. But why?

One size does not fit all

Your company’s mission and business operations are unique, and so are the technical skills required to achieve them. Your skill development strategy needs to be led by business and employee-specific demands.

Your employees want to learn

Hiring new employees to fill your current tech-skill gaps is not a sustainable method, nor does it benefit your company’s growth in the long run (not to mention your rapport with your current employees). 

As industries continue to evolve rapidly, determining talent needs is becoming an increasingly more challenging job. According to the International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity, close to 40% of employers struggle to recruit employees with all the required skills. A more complex recruitment process means more time and money lost. Retention of staff pays in the long run.  

Tech skills are tough to pin down, with skill shifts occurring as regularly as every 3-4 months. Providing education opportunities for your current tech gurus will encourage your employees to grow with the business. Win-win for both parties.

Inefficient use of employee strengths

By customising your upskilling pathways, your employees’ strengths will become more apparent. Your business’ allocation of tech employee efforts will be more efficient and appropriately allocated according to your business’ strategy. A customised learning experience will lead to more efficient business operations and more revenue. 

An actionable reality

Employers need actionable steps to help them get started in providing employees with an effective learning and development program. With key insights into the primary building blocks of a practical skills development strategy, employers like you can begin to find the right educational opportunities for your employees.

Where personalisation fits in

artificial intelligence

A blanket approach to your business’ tech development strategy won’t work. Different business outcomes require diverse skill proficiencies. As technology advances, so too do the operations conducted to reach these outcomes. Once again, the required skill set shifts. 

If your employees’ skill proficiency doesn’t align with your business outcomes, your upskilling efforts will incur minimal results. So, how can leaders and employees ensure investment in the correct upskilling efforts? 

On a global scale, the most relevant tech skills that are predicted to continue to grow in demand are:

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2021/12/27/top-10-tech-job-skills-predicted-to-grow-the-fastest-in-2021/?sh=856121c6fdeb
Source: https://www.pluralsight.com/content/dam/pluralsight2/pdf/StateOfUpskilling.pdf (p.14)


But how do you determine which tech fields and skills will best benefit your business? 

1. Analyse your current skill gaps on a broader spectrum, and identify your overall initiative for your customised skill development strategy. 

  • What’s your goal? 
  • Where are business operations slow? 
  • Where do your employees struggle to meet business outcomes? 
  • What skills do you think your employees need to bridge these gaps in knowledge?

2. Communicate with your employees.

Your tech-employees are your best source of information when determining which skills are required to meet your business outcomes more efficiently. They are running the day-to-day tech operations and can best determine which mission-critical skills they need to complete their work. 

Employee assessment and opinion-surveys are practical tools to acquire a more detailed picture of which skills your team wants to learn. This exercise will help you design a skills-plan with suitable a-la-carte upskilling options for your employees.

3. Thirdly, you need to match your employees with engaging projects. Where do their strengths and interests lie, and where can your business best utilise their potential?

Most tech professionals, no matter their age, want to learn. 61% of Australian tech professionals completed 1-5 courses in the last 12 months, with a further 25% completing 6-10 courses. The biggest motivators for tech professionals  to participate in further education include the desire to grow their career by expanding their skill set and learning project-specific skills.

Why online skill development makes sense

Once you know what skills your strategy will encompass, the question shifts to how your business should offer these up-skilling training opportunities. Employee engagement and experience with provided education opportunities will largely influence how successful your skill development strategy will be. 

Utilising online education platforms makes the most sense for the majority of businesses. Online courses provide learners with:
  • Access to materials anytime, anywhere
  • Self-paced learning
  • Flexible scheduling
  • A wide range of skill-focused short and long courses
However, online courses can vary in their teaching approach, and it’s up to you to determine which approaches best suit your employees. Popular online learning methods (p.10) include: 
  • Self-paced courses - All material is accessible at all times, and the learner is solely responsible for the course progression.
  • Instructor-led training - A blend of self-taught online materials and scheduled instructor-led classes via live virtual seminars and lectures.
  • Coding labs - Hands-on virtual learning experiences with a focus on coding skills.
  • Mobile learning - Can be a blend of self-paced and instructor-led, but all tailored to be doable on the mobile phone.
According to industry reports, online development tools particularly help proficient, and expert tech employees feel more confident in their skills. 41% of employees before online training reported levels of proficiency or expertise. This number rose to 65% after online training participation. As Australia’s ageing workforce increases, it’s time to re-evaluate how your business can most value their skillset and eagerness to learn.  

Support your in-house tech professionals

smiling man working in tech

Putting steps in place to customise your skill development strategy is only as successful as your management team’s ability to foster encouragement around its participation. According to PwC’s CEO survey, the two biggest challenges of a new upskilling strategy are motivation and resources alignment. To successfully action a customised skill development strategy, tech professionals need to feel valued for their willingness to learn and improve. This comes down to:

Collecting employee feedback on what they need to action your projects most efficiently

Collect feedback before, during and after training has taken place to continue to perfect your strategy.

Incentivising effective learning 

If your upskilling methods are effective, you should see business-wide improvements (p.29) in employee satisfaction, resilience and engagement. This then translates to improved productivity, innovation and revenue. As your employees take on more skills and, by consequence, responsibility in your business, financial compensation should go hand in hand.  

Understanding that skill-development is part of their job

Meeting your tech employees’ needs is the first step to an ongoing positive cycle within your business. So, it’s essential to make time in your business’ daily operations for employees to participate in online learning. 

Learning in short, concentrated blocks works best for most tech professionals. This micro-learning method helps keep employee engagement high and barely impacts work output. Fostering an environment where employees can take time to upskill during working hours will significantly benefit your strategy’s success.   

By facilitating continuous tech-skill development for your employees, you will benefit your business’ current market position. Furthermore, you’ll better prepare your company for inevitable future technological advancements related to your industry

Looking to upskill your tech employees?

Upskilled offers a great range of IT courses, offering specialisations according to your company's needs. We offer online courses in: If you're looking to upskill your workforce to keep up with the evolving trends in the IT industry, chat to one of our education consultants on 1300 009 924 and enquire how online training can benefit your tech employees

Editor's note: This article was contributed and written by Training.com.au. They are Australia's largest education marketplace, assisting education providers in maximising their student enrolments by offering a range of services that help attract high-quality student enquiries.
 
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